Faith Nisperos had always sought guidance from Jaja Santiago during her time in Nazareth School – National University.
Since then, Santiago has become the most decorated Filipino volleyball player in the international professional scene.
The 6-foot-5 middle blocker has a gold medal on her belt, winning the V Cup championship in Japan last March with her team Saitama Ageo Medics. She also won bronze with the same squad in Japan V.League last year.
With the plethora of international experience, Santiago was the national team player Nisperos is most excited to share the court with.
“I have to agree with Ate Jen (Nierva) kasi siyempre we came from the same high school so nakikita namin yan si Ate Jaja,” said Nisperos on Off The Record with Migs and Cesca.
“Si Ate Jaja talaga yung teammate na I’m looking forward to playing with.”
Santiago has been with Ageo Medics for three years, continuously improving her game, leading the league in attack percentage with an absurd 65.2-percent in the V Cup two months ago.
With Santiago’s achievements abroad, this has transcended to the young guns of Philippine volleyball.
“Seeing her achieve all those things in Japan, grabe doon ako nag start (mag-isip) na it’s really possible pala for a Filipino to achieve those kinds of things, yung mga na-achieve ni Ate Ja,” said the 21-year-old Ateneo open hitter.
“Being with her lang isang karangalan na for me kasi you get to know her, how she moves like yung body language niya mawi-witness mo eh.”
Nisperos, a two-time UAAP Juniors Season MVP and two-time Finals MVP, regrets that she wasn’t able to get to play with Santiago during her stint with the Lady Bullpups.
But with Nisperos and all the other 15 spikers who attended the women’s volleyball national team tryouts last Wednesday already assured of a spot in the 2021 Southeast Asian Games, she will finally get the chance to play with Santiago.